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I’m Not Listed on My Child’s Birth Certificate. What’s Next?

The birth of a new family member is a thrilling time for new parents and the extended family. A lot of preparation must be done before you welcome a new baby, and some things can get lost in the avalanche of new responsibilities.

In some cases, a parent may find that they were not listed on their child’s birth certificate, which can happen because of hospital negligence because they were not present for the birth or because they are no longer in a relationship with the child’s mother. However, there are ways to fix this type of situation, and ensuring the presence of each parent’s name on a child’s birth certificate will prevent legal issues later on.

What Parental Rights Do I Have If I’m Not Listed on My Child’s Birth Certificate?

If you are not married to the mother of your child, and you are not listed on the birth certificate, you have virtually no legal right to the child in question. When a married couple gives birth to a new child, the man is automatically listed as the father on the birth certificate because it is assumed that he is the father and should have legal and parental responsibilities to said child.

However, over 40% of new births in the United States are to mothers who aren’t married.

If you are unmarried and your name is not on the birth certificate, you are not liable for making child support payments.

However, you also have no rights to visitation with your child or legal custody of the child. There is a difference in the legal system between being a child's biological father and a child's legal father.

Suppose you’re biologically the father of a child but have not assumed the legal responsibilities of parenthood by signing the child’s birth certificate. In that case, you will have no legal rights over the child or the child’s wellbeing, even if it is known that you are the biological father.

Signing a Birth Certificate After the Birth

Establishing Paternity

The most frequently used legal avenue to have your name added to your biological child’s birth certificate after the birth is to establish paternity.

Establishing paternity means legally acknowledging that you are the child’s father and will assume legal responsibilities, such as providing food and shelter, clothing, and paying child support if the court deems it necessary.

Paternity can be established in multiple ways. The simplest is to sign an Affidavit of Paternity. This is a document that a father signs to acknowledge that he would like to assume legal responsibilities for his child.

The document can be filed with the court as long as the mother’s signature is present. In some cases, particularly when the relationship between the mother and father ended before the child's birth, the mother may refuse to sign the affidavit. In this situation, the father can petition for a DNA test to prove the child's parentage.

Once it is proven without a doubt that he is the child's biological father, his name can be added to the birth certificate even if the mother contests it. He will have the same legal rights over the child as a father in a married couple.

Amending the Birth Certificate

In certain situations, it is possible to amend the official birth certificate after the birth of the child. This requires filing some paperwork and paying a fee. This route is a quick and generally simpler way to have your name added to your child’s birth certificate if you are certain that you are the child’s father or want to legally assume the child’s father's role.

In order to amend a birth certificate in California, one must fill out a form called an Affidavit to Amend a Record Form VS 24. Here are the steps:

  • Fill out the form, including what changes you seek to make to the birth certificate (including detailed instructions).
  • Pay a $23 fee associated with amending a birth certificate in California
  • Include the current birth certificate and any other supporting documents (paternity tests, etc.).
  • Once completed, this form can be sent to the following address: California Department of Public Health Vital Records - M.S. 5103, P.O. Box 997410, Sacramento, CA 95899-7410.
  • It takes 6 to 8 weeks on average for the information to be processed and the changes to be implemented.

In a similar process, a form called the Application to Amend a Birth Record: Acknowledgement of Paternity/Parentage Form VS 22 can be used to add a parent’s name to a birth certificate in California. This also requires a fee; however, the fee covers a new and legally certified copy of the amended birth certificate.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you have recently become a parent but have not been listed on the child’s birth certificate and need assistance making that happen, contact Singleton Smith Law Offices, Inc. At our firm, we understand the importance of having accurate and fair legal rights over your children for their benefit and your own. The attorneys at Singleton Smith will work tirelessly to provide you with empathetic and ethical legal representation. Contact us at (951) 779-1610 today or by visiting our contact page.